JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 17-year-old Jacksonville boy who was bitten on his heel by a shark a week ago in waters off Hanna Park was reunited Friday with the man who saved his life.
Keanan Perry was hospitalized and received 50 stitches after successful surgery on a severed Achilles' tendon.
Perry said that as he was surfing some really good waves at the north end of the park, near what's know as The Poles, something clamped down on his back heel, and he knew it was a shark.
"I was near the shore, away from everybody in a dead zone by myself, jumped off my board to see how deep it was. I was thinking about walking out. It was chest high, deeper than I expected. Right when my foot was hit, I didn't see anything. It just latched. Then was gone right after," Perry described last week to News4Jax. "Right when it happened, there was so much pressure. I was like, that's a shark bite. I could feel the teeth. It was very aggressive for a second. I hopped on my board and was trying to paddle in."
Perry and his friend were able to flag down a fisherman, who applied pressure to his wound for 10 minutes until paramedics arrived.
Kevin Rowland, the man who came to Perry's rescue, said he only did what he would want someone to do for him.
“Treat people the way you want to be treated,” Rowland said. “I just reacted and ran out there, and once I saw him on top of the board and the gash to the back of his foot, I knew I needed to get him out of the water and get this thing tied up.”
Rowland and Perry met for the first time since the rescue on Friday. Perry hopped about on crutches during the lunch reunion with the man he called a hero.
“I couldn't thank him more,” Perry said. “My mom and everybody thanked him so much, and it's just crazy that he was the one to help me. He did a great job. He kept me from freaking out.”
Perry has about four more weeks on crutches but said he's thankful he gained an extra support system from a dangerous encounter that could have been a lot worse.
“He's an awesome guy. I can't wait to see where this goes,” Perry said. “He's going to help me out in a lot of other ways, he said.”
One of the ways Rowland is planning to help Perry is by assisting him in finding a job near his apartment as soon as his foot heals.